How to accustom a child to sleep alone?
How to teach children to relax and sleep better.
child care7 November 2018
Contrary to what many people believe, having active children right until bedtime makes it very difficult for them to go to sleep. For them it is never a good time to stop, and taking them to bed while they are in full action can cause tantrums and arguments.
Just like adults, the little ones of the family need a moment of tranquility before bed to relax and to help them fall asleep more easily. Here are some tips on how to do this.
What to do before going to bed
- Bath time: it is one of the most calming things for a child, especially babies. Try to make this a relaxing time and take advantage of this moment to talk with him about how his day has been.
- Dinner: it is best to eat dinner is at least one hour before bedtime. Foods such as eggs, fish or milk help to induce sleep.
- Television and games: Watching television or playing high activity games just before bedtime is not recommended. Instead, we can take the opportunity to read stories with them, make shapes with play dough and even paint.
- 15 minutes: giving your child a little of warning before bedtime helps them get ready and finish what they are doing. If you argue, try to make peace before they go to bed, anger is not conducive to sleep.
Relaxation techniques with babies from 0 to 3 years old
Even if they are not yet aware of relaxation, we can set up daily routines for them that will help them fall asleep more calmly.
When they are lying in the cradle or bed, tell them a story or just talk about whatever you want in a relaxed way. At the same time, give him a hand or leg massage. It is important that the little one feels physical contact, not by cradling him in our arms, but by being at his side. This reinforces their independence.
To get a baby to relax, it is important that you are also relaxed. Your gestures and moods also be conveyed to the baby.
Relaxation techniques for children from 3 to 7 years old
At this age, children already want to show that they are grown up and this is the perfect time to work on guided relaxation techniques. Ensure that the child controls his breathing and this can be integrated as an essential part of his daily life.
How do you achieve this? In a quiet environment, with dim light and even with some relaxing music, use the imagination to play while the child uses his body. The key is to make slow, calm movements.
- The turtle: slow hand and arm movements, with tension in the neck and shoulders. We tell him a story with the turtle as the main character. He walks through the forest and when he finds a threat he hides his head in his shell. The child has to copy the movement. This teaches how to create muscle tension and then release it.
- The balloon: this one is about playing at being a balloon being inflated little by little, so that the arms and legs are getting big while you breathe very slowly. Then the balloon deflates in the same way.
- The ant: ask the child to draw in his arms and legs and make himself smaller and smaller. Then ask him to become another animal. This does the same thing, tensing and relaxing the muscles.
- The soft toy, another great ally; ask the child to hug the stuffed toy very tightly, to show how much he loves it. It's another way of tensing and relaxing without realizing.
- Visual imagination: for the older children. Ask them to close their eyes and visualize a relaxing place together, explaining it with all sorts of details: how it smells, what sounds you hear, etc. This can be another way to calm children down.
- Laughter: Laughing is one of the best natural pain killers. When we laugh a lot, the body relaxes, so let's all laugh!!
Relaxation techniques for older children, from 7 to 12 years old
At this stage, the child is fully aware of what a relaxation technique is and should understand that it will help him to relax, not only when going to bed, but in any situation that arises.
Ask him to close his eyes and imagine himself in a nice place. Give him a few seconds to imagine it and, if he feels like it, he can tell you what he can see. It is at this age when you can begin to focus their senses with phrases like:
- "Look at your right arm and notice how you can feel a pleasant warmth."
- "Can you feel it a little warmer than the rest of your body?"
- "Feel like your arm weighs a lot, like it's made of iron."
- "You're relaxed and calm."
We can also try tension-distension exercises of the following type:
- Imagine someone stretch your limbs and then suddenly letting go. This helps to create a very pleasant feeling in the muscles.
- Squeezing an orange - as simple as imagining yourself squeezing an orange with your hand, squeezing it with all your might is a great exercise for tensing and relaxing.